The Adventure of the Summer Frostys
By Florencia Bravo |
Perhaps it was the feeling of the wind flowing through our loose summer clothes. Or maybe it was the fact that we weren’t supposed to go any further than the mobile home entrance. Whatever it was, sneaking away like this made us giddy as we flew down Orangewood on our bikes. My initial fears and hesitations were whisked away as our laughter spread, loud and contagious. It was late summer, only a couple of weeks left of freedom, and we had raided our piggy banks for a couple of bucks to be able to get some Frostys. Now we rode as quick as we could to the Wendy’s some blocks away. The smell of hot asphalt, cut grass, and fried food filled the summer air as we pedaled as hard as we could down cracked sidewalks. We would all have to be back home soon to not risk any suspicions by our mothers. I thought back to us some minutes prior, trying to discreetly creep into our respective rooms. I had quietly taken some crumpled up bills and change from its hiding spot in my closet, trying to not make too much noise. If Mama were to ask why we were getting money I knew that I would not be able to lie. Do all mothers come with a lie detector? Because I am convinced that not even the best liar would be able to get away from my Mama’s all-knowing eyes. I could never lie to her, and she knew it. I carefully shoved the money into the pockets of my shorts, hoping the denim would keep the coins from jingling loudly. I exited my room just as my little brother left his. He gave me a small nod and tapped the pocket of his own jeans. With neutral expressions, we prepared ourselves to face Mama. We walked right past her in the kitchen, walking quickly to avoid questions. She was preparing dinner, her expert hands multitasking between chopping vegetables and frying meat. “We’re gonna ride our bikes with Kevin,” I had said as we left our house.
Mama smiled but kept her eyes on the onion she was dicing, “Papa will be home soon for dinner. Come back soon.” When we got to our driveway, we were once again engulfed by California summer heat. It was always worse in August and September, the sun a relentless foe. As we gathered our helmets and courage, our neighbor, Kevin was waiting for us at the end of the driveway his hands impatiently messing with the worn handlebars of his bike. As I sat in my stiff bike seat, some fear creeped into my mind, “what if something happens?” Kevin gave me a toothy grin, “we’ll be fine! If we go fast, we’ll be back in like 20 minutes tops.” It had taken a whole lot of convincing on his part to get my brother and I to agree to go in the first place and now he was nervous that we would change our minds and back out. My brother, Jeremias had needed less convincing than I did, but he was always fearless. The two boys looked at me, waiting for me to cower away. It was like that a lot with the three of us. Though Kevin and I were the same age, he got on a lot better with my brother. I would often have to beg them to let me tag along. Most of the time when we played, I would have to compromise with Legos or boardgames. I was never allowed to play videogames with them and of course they never wanted to play with my “girl” toys. Anytime I was included I couldn’t complain too much or else they would change their minds. There weren’t any girls my age in the mobile home park, and I didn’t have the social skills Jeremias or Kevin had. I barely had friends at school so I very well couldn’t do anything to upset the only two friends I had. I smiled warily and mumbled, “okay, let’s go.” I couldn’t back out now, I wouldn’t hear the end of it, “God please keep us safe,” I prayed, “and don’t let us get run over.”
My irrational eleven-year-old mind kept trying to tell me that if we went, we would surely be run over, or mugged, or beat up. Whatever the situation was, something horrible was bound to happen. I didn’t stop to consider who would beat up some kids, or what real chance there was of us getting run over. After Kevin was sure I wouldn’t back out, he quickly took the lead. The first few turns of the mobile home park was familiar territory. We knew the old lady who always talked with her phone on speaker, the strange looking cat that slept underneath the lemon tree, and the recognizable sound of someone watching Casa Cerado so loud, we could hear it from the street as we whizzed by. There was the old, faded houses next to the brand-new ones that had recently been brought in. These streets were safe, familiar, I knew what to expect from inside the mobile home park. What waited for us out on the main street was the unknown. Kevin quickly got more and more ahead of us, his feet pedaling quickly knowing the faster he pedaled the faster he would get ice cream. My brother was as he was most of the time. His green eyes shone brightly against his happy face and his shoulders were relaxed as he pedaled at his own speed. Not a care in the world, the only thing on his mind now was French fries and Frostys. Soon we were at the threshold of the park and Euclid Street. I swallowed as I turned back to look at the safety of the mobile home park. When I looked back to find my brother and neighbor, hoping I could convince them to turn back, I saw that they had both picked up speed. They seemed miles away now. Taking one more look at the mobile home park, I forced my feet to follow behind the two boys in front of me. Even with my worry, I couldn’t very well leave my younger brother to face this all alone. Not to mention that the idea of a Frosty was starting to make my worry recede into a deep forgotten corner of my mind. I began to think about whether I would get vanilla or chocolate and if I would have enough money for some fries as well. We flew on the uneven sidewalks, past houses and trees, and soon enough we were going down Brookhurst, past the Marshalls where our moms liked to shop and past the Chase Bank our parents would go to. Down the street was the elementary school we went to and in the other shopping complex was the theater we would go to sometimes on the weekend. My family loved going to the movies, usually comedies and cartoons. If our dad would take us, it was always Lord of the Rings, Star Wars or Mission Impossible. If our mom took us, it would be anything with Adam Sandler in it, or anything Disney. Whenever we spent time with our family, it was always a good time. When we finally saw the big red Wendy’s sign in the distance, it was like an “x” on a treasure map. We got there soon enough and quickly lined up our bikes chaining them together against the railing so they would be safe while we stepped inside. Immediately the overwhelming scent of burgers, fried chicken, and ketchup filled our nostrils. We could hear the hum of the soda machine and the music playing through the speakers of the restaurant. The gust of air conditioning greeted us and was a much-needed reward after riding in the heat. We giggled to ourselves as we ordered our French fries and Frostys. My brother chose vanilla, Kevin and I chose chocolate. As we looked through our winnings, Kevin held his Frosty in the air as if he were giving a toast, “see I told you guys this was a good idea.” My brother and I nodded in agreement as we ate up our spoils. When we were satisfied, we grabbed the leftovers of our food and deposited it carefully into my bike’s basket, “we can eat the rest when we get home,” we reasoned, “we have to get back before our moms notice.” “Let’s hurry,” I said, my anxiety sliding back into my focus. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You gotta relax, we’ll be fine,” Kevin rolled his eyes at me as we began the journey back home.
The heat was dying down now and soon the sun would set, lighting the sky with blood orange, magenta and golden hues. The ride back was mostly quietly as we were focused on getting back home as soon as possible. The entrance to the mobile home park was waiting patiently for us when we got back. My brother and I sighed in relief when we noticed my dad’s car was not yet in our driveway. “See told ya,” Kevin said smugly as he parked his bike and grabbed the rest of his fries, “they’ll never know where we went.” “Okay I get it... you were right,” I pursed my lips as we sorted ourselves. Kevin gave us a final wave as he walked into his yard, still munching on his fries. My brother and I smiled mischievously as we thought about our little getaway. We never once stopped to think that our secret adventure would be brought into light the second we stepped into our house our hands gripping red Wendy’s cups still halfway filled with cold creamy Frostys.